German inventor and aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal once said, "To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. To fly is everything." Since 2009 -- when Boeing selected North Charleston, S.C. for its final assembly and delivery facility -- Team South Carolina has been busy building airplanes; and, as a result, our state and its economy have been flying high. Propelled by Boeing's arrival, a burgeoning aerospace industry has been cultivated in South Carolina; and today, that sector consists of approximately 400 private sector firms and more than 50,000 jobs.
Illustrating the growth of this dynamic industry is South Carolina's ever-increasing export activity. From 2014 to 2016, the export sales of aircraft and spacecraft from the Palmetto State increased a whopping 295 percent. And, in the first quarter of 2017, more than $900 million in aircraft and spacecraft has already been exported from South Carolina, a 25 percent year-over-year increase.
Next month, to celebrate this thriving sector and discuss its future, the fourth annual S.C. Aerospace Conference and Expo will take place in Columbia, S.C. from August 29-31. A perfect venue to convene state, community and industry leaders, the three-day event will include a B2B matchmaking session, a technical symposium, a keynote address from Governor Henry McMaster, panel discussions, exhibition opportunities and more. For additional event and registration information, click here.
As the final preparations are made for this year's conference, it's clear that the excitement surrounding aviation in South Carolina will only continue. As it does -- and, as our state further expands on its role as a major player in the global aerospace industry -- South Carolina's economy will continue to soar, bringing opportunities and prosperity to every corner of this state.
Secretary of Commerce